Yes, it's that time of year. Young girls across the country are descending on doorsteps to sell Samoa's, Thin Mints, and Do-Si-Do's. That's right. It's GIRL SCOUT COOKIE season.
My daughter just turned six and is a Daisy (Girl Scout in training). This is her first year as a Daisy. She was really excited and very motivated to sell cookies. I am not sure if it was a curse or a boon to be the daughter of the CEO of an Internet sales & marketing company. I know some of you are rolling your eyes at this, but I truly believe that "selling" is one of the great skills that EVERYONE should know, understand and embrace. (I believe in life and this economy, you are either creating value by making things like engineers or you know how to sell - products, services, yourself, your company to customers and investors). We spent the last two weeks learning about creating lists, cold calling (relatives & friends), leaving compelling messages to get call backs, and going door to door (to neighbors accompanied by parents). She hit her goal. i am very proud.
These are the key sales lessons I learned from my six year daughter:
1) Have a Very Clear Goal: She wanted the stuffed animal giraffe at the 155 cookie box level. She saw that giraffe in the Girl Scout brochure, she didn't really understand what she needed to do to get it, but she knew she wanted it.
2) Be Tenacious & Make Sacrifices: Once she decided she wanted the stuffed giraffe and knew it took selling 155 boxes, she decided she she would do what it took to get it even if it meant sacrificing play time, skiing, and TV time. Every free moment for the past several weeks was spent selling cookies.
3) Make a Targeted List: Before she started, she created a list of "targets" of relatives, friends and neighbors. We started with an initial list of obvious friends and relatives. We then used online services like FaceBook, LinkedIn and Evite to brainstorm other "friendly" faces and warm, receptive contacts she could contact.
4) Create a Script & Practice: She developed a really simple call script and practiced with me and my wife. She then started calling relatives. She then moved to family friends and neighbors and kept working on her presentation. (She had a 100% close rate if she could get someone on the phone. People were surprised to get a call from a six year old.)
5) Optimize Your Voice Mail: She tested one or two voicemail scripts and got some reasonable call backs (who wouldn't return a call from that voice).
6) Be Fearless: This is a funny one. I think we learn fear and embarrassment as we get older. She may not know better, but she was fearless in making calls and selling door to door to neighbors. In fact, she was SO EXCITED by the giraffe that she was dragging my wife or me out to go door to door everyday that the sun was shining. Weird to be that motivated, but six year olds have energy and are motivated by stuffed animals.
7) Get Referrals from Friends, Family, and Customers: Sarena hit a roadblock at about 100 boxes. We didn't think she would get to her goal of 155 boxes. She ended up getting some really good referrals from family friends who helped put her over the top. Of course, she wasn't afraid to ask for a referral. Also, some friends of friends saw her selling cookies and just walked over and purchased as well.
8) Be Enthusiastic: When you are excited, your prospects and customers will be excited for you. Most of us sell the same product or service every day and can lose the nervousness or excitement of that first sale. Generally if we are tired or bored with our products, services or jobs, it will show in our voice, posture, and presentations. Stay fresh and excited when you pick up that phone or enter the room. Being nervous is a good thing as it shows that you care.
Of course, it helps to be six years old and it helps to be selling Girl Scout cookies.
But be it selling cars, real estate, securities on the stock market, or yourself in job interview, there's a lot you can learn from the fresh eyes of a six year old.